A bit of organised chaos.... and a trip to Dusseldorf

SO last week I took what currently seems to be an annual trip to Dusseldorf. Why Dusseldorf? Because that's where Medica is housed, and in the world of medical and healthcare all roads seem to lead to Dusseldorf. 

It's actually surprising in a way that there aren't more medical and healthcare shows than there are. I've been asked a few times to investigate the options, and to be honest the options are limited. You're talking either the gargantuan behemoth of a show that is Medica, or very small, targeted shows for 'surgeons specialised in operations on big toes' and the like, and very little inbetween. 

Gap in the market..... yes there is. But who will fill it?

And so myself and a colleague headed for Germany, to see what was going on, and size it up for next year.... we make a small amount of niche but excellent medical and healthcare products, such as anti-slip absorbent floor mats, absorbent tourniquet drapes, and 95 kPa specimen transport bags, and we wanted to see how our products might fit with what everyone else was doing. 

There's a few things to note about Medica. It's ridiculously large, there's a lot of companies doing pretty much the same, and (somewhat ironically for a healthcare show) it's hard to find a healthy bite to eat. 

Let's deal with those things one by one. It's very, very large. I think there's about 18 halls, all with at least a few hundred exhibitors. Some might say too big, and not targeted enough. There's a lot of companies selling the same, mostly from India and the Far East, and you genuinely wonder how they all manage to make the show pay. They can't stand out, they just blend in to each other, just another stall with the same range of bandages or plasters. And I know you don't go to Germany for the food (unless that is, you're massively into meat and potato) but come on guys, not everyone wants a bratwurst or a burger. 

Speaking of food, breakfast in Germany's always an interesting experience. I mean, who eats lemon drizzle cake with breakfast? Who thought I know, this is what people want: uber-strong coffee; cream; ham; boiled eggs; yoghurt in every possible flavour; lemon drizzle cake; bread and watered-down fruit juice. I'd say it was just this particularly hotel, but past experience tells me not. Cake for breakfast is a German thing.... 

So where's the chaos? Germany, after all, is famed for its efficiency. Well chaos is what I arrived back to.... Sirane's taken over next door, people are on the move, boxes were everywhere, organised chaos about summed it up. But amongst it all my desk was still where I'd left it. Happy days, I guess.....

MARK LINGARD, MARKETING

 

East of England Co-op could wake up the rest of the country....

NOW, I have family from the East of England. And when I say family, I mean I am married to her. So I think I am allowed to get away with saying that the East of England's not always at the forefront of the modern world. It's kind of a bit sleepy over there, things just drift along. To be fair, it's a very pleasant place to be.... but when you consider Ipswich to be the big smoke, well you get my drift.

But the East of England Co-op is currently in the news for becoming the first major retailer in the UK to sell food that is past its "best before" dates. The plan is to sell tinned and dried products for 10p, rather than bin them. This is, to be honest, long overdue, and I suspect some of the bigger players (no disrespect to East of England Co-op) will be monitoring with interest what happens.

After all, on some of these sorts of products "Best Before" dates can be somewhat arbritary. It's almost like they put something on some products simply because they have to put something. The reality is that the tin of baked beans with the Best Before Nov 2017 stamped on it is probably perfectly edible. My grandparents had tinned food in their cellar from the 1950s which was still edible in the 1990s...  (I think they might have once won a competition in which the prize was a life-time's supply of tinned corned beef and peaches) *Not in the same tin, that would be horrendous, even by my standards.

I know WRAP are heavily involved in pushing ideas like the one the East of England Co-op is introducing and they're doing a great job. Someone has to, as the food waste figures are a disgrace in this country. But they'll need a mindset change amongst the general public before anything major happens I suspect. Which is why some beady eyes will be monitoring out-of-date tinned food comsumption in Suffolk....

Personally, I don't think the public understand the difference between best before, sell by and use by, and that's a significant part of the problem. Not that I have a solution mind....

MARK LINGARD, MARKETING 

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